When José Feliciano would come dwelling from faculty as a younger boy, the very first thing he’d do was activate “American Bandstand” and try and play together with the music on the Dick Clark-hosted TV present.
“I assumed to myself, ‘If I can play together with these songs, then I’m knowledgeable. I’m on the best way,’” the 74-year-old singer-guitarist advised PoliFonics throughout a latest telephone interview from his dwelling in Connecticut.
Feliciano would follow hours upon hours, a lot in order that his mother would typically discover him in his bed room, asleep together with his guitar in hand. All that rehearsing paid off.
All through his 50-plus 12 months profession, Feliciano has to date launched greater than 60 albums and notched worldwide hits together with a rendition of The Doorways’ “Gentle My Hearth,” the hit vacation music “Feliz Navidad” and “California Dreamin’” ― lately heard within the Quentin Tarantino movie “As soon as Upon A Time In Hollywood.”
“I fell in love with the guitar. I heard the guitar sound — and it referred to as me,” stated Feliciano, who was born blind.
Feliciano’s ardour for music involves life within the upcoming documentary “Behind This Guitar,” which options appearances by many artists who’ve been impressed by or labored alongside Feliciano by way of the years, together with Gloria Estefan and Carlos Santana. The documentary follows Feliciano’s life ― from his beginning in Puerto Rico and his household’s transfer to Harlem, New York, to his rise enjoying the golf equipment of Greenwich Village and his eventual stardom.
“Behind This Guitar” was set to premiere at this 12 months’s SXSW pageant in Austin, however was postponed as a consequence of COVID-19. The movie will comply with Feliciano’s new studio album of the identical identify, launched in January. One of many set’s new tracks, “I’m America,” has resonated these days with Feliciano.
“I actually preferred the message that it stated,” Feliciano famous earlier than quoting a number of the music’s lyrics: “I’m the river. I’m the rain. The lonesome whistle of a practice.”
“I’m proud to be from Puerto Rico. And I really like America,” he stated. “And that’s why I recorded this music. As a result of I really like America. I believe it’s time that individuals began realizing that they love this nation and that’s why I did ‘I’m America’ — to indicate my love for this nation.”
This isn’t the primary time Feliciano carried out a music so immediately tied to American identification. In 1968, he carried out “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the World Sequence on the peak of Vietnam Warfare protests. He’s typically stated to be the primary artist to publicly stylize the music, turning the nationwide anthem on its head by infusing each jazz and Latin influences. On the time, the efficiency acquired a blended response, with some calling it controversial, leading to radio stations pulling Feliciano’s songs from the air.
Feliciano, who ultimately recovered from the preliminary backlash, stated he’s proud to have paved the best way for extra creative creativity.
“Everyone sings it their very own manner. I believe all I did was open the door for freedom of expression,” Feliciano stated. “And I’ve no regrets. Typically in my present, I even do a model of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ à la Jimi Hendrix. I do this as a result of I can … I wish to see it go ahead. I wish to see folks get alongside. As Rodney King stated years in the past, ‘Why can’t all of us simply get alongside?’ And I couldn’t agree with him extra. I’m simply attempting to do my half.”
Over time, Feliciano has loved performing around the globe; it’s one among his favourite components of the enterprise.
“I really like once I would journey on the highway and other people would come to see me. I can inform them how a lot I owe them. As a result of I do. I wouldn’t have a profession if it wasn’t for my followers and associates I’ve made.”
Along with his wide-ranging, lengthy profession, Feliciano is sometimes called a legend ― even receiving the 2000 Grammy Legend Award. However the modest musician is fast to dismiss that description.
“I’m not a legend. I’m only a man who labored very exhausting to attain.”
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